For The Sins I Can Remember – Victorian Era & Whoring

Produced by: Vagabond Inventions
Conceived/ Directed by: Jennifer Sargent
Co-Written/Developed by:
Donna Costello, Cynthia Polutanovich, Jennifer Sargent
Music composed and performed by: Tony Melone, (Except “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, 19th century American gospel song, author unknown)
Light Design by: Derek Wright
Set and Costumes by: Jennifer Sargent
Devised by and Featuring:
Donna Costello – The Women
Denni Dennis – Angel Benjamin
Emily James – Angel Lucy
Elisa Matula – Our Lady
The IRT Theater 154 Christopher St, 3rd Floor, New York NY

By Stanley Allan Sherman © copyright 2013

Elisa Matual, Emily James, Denni Dennis & Donna Costello. Photo by Jim Moore

Elisa Matual, Emily James, Denni Dennis & Donna Costello. Photo by Jim Moore

Forget what you know about whores and prostitutes from popular culture For The Sins I Can Remember is at times very abstract at other times very tangible and real ride of the life.  It pits reality of the Victorian era and the world’s oldest profession, then mix in religious Christian heaven’s judgment of the women.  Two Angels played by Denni Dennis and Emily James are the bumbling stumbling angels of the heavenly court or heavenly theatrical clowns.   Whenever they are on stage it is alive with intense and funny poignant action.

Our Lady played by Elisa Matual is the star of this show.  She is the one that really takes us on a wild ride at time.  We experience the life of whores of that era.   The real stories from the writing of “The Maimie Pinzer Papers” stories of herself and other workingwomen of her time, which the play is based on, are some of the best parts of this theater piece.  One story really shows how a fed up woman can take charge and take out an obnoxious man in a bar.  Jumping off stage swinging on something, jumping on and sliding down the bar knocking all the drinks off the bar then wrapping her legs around the guys neck in a head lock and punching him out. He lost three teeth.  We can picture ourselves there and glad someone finally shut the guy up.  Elisa plays this on the edge experience as only a whore can.  She has the, I really don’t give a dam; I have seen too much and know too much truth.  She balances the journey with very sensitive moments.

 Elisa Matula being questioned by the clown angels

Emily James standing on the chair, Denni Dennis and Elisa Matula being questioned by the clown angels

The clown’s interaction with Our Lady is a real struggle between heavenly Christian rules and the very real prostitute.  For Sins I Can Remember Elisa takes us on a complete ride.  The two clowns battle trying to control the prostitute who is uncontrollable and she does what she wants.   That struggle is a part of what this play is about.  Elisa’s scene of sex with the many different men in one day is abstract but at the same time Director and co-creator Jennifer Sargent makes it very real for us.  The tossing of the white cloth napkins after she is finished with each man is powerful.

The Woman played by Donna Costello seems to be in a modern dance mode most of the show, separate and somewhat of an echo or statement of what is happening.  Her best moments were when she was letting down her hair and ripping her stocking off.  Most of this dance was the one integration in the show that seemed not to work as well with the whole show.  It possible modern dance fans will love this element of the show.  Everything else in the show flows nicely, working well telling this whore story, which is horrifying at times.  Especially when it gets into childhood.  It makes you want to scream justice!  Of course the angels are there.  But these Clown Angels are by the book of the time and the interpretation of what heaven and hell is in this era, good and bad, proper and not proper.  Between the two Angels and Our Lady the show is effective and creates excellent questions.

Elisa Matula in red sitting in a chair looking and Donna Costello up stage ripping off her stocking

Photo by: Hope Davis
Donna Costello – The Women and Elisa Matula – Our Lady in red

The Music by Tony Melone works well throughout the show.  Starting off with a type of Scott Joplin very slow rag, which really sets the time and space.    Jennifer Sargent costumes set the right tone for the show. Light Design by Derek Wright is effective, as I did not notice the lighting but the show.

I have seen most of the works that Jennifer Sargent has performed in NYC with her various partners and For The Sins I Can Remember is very different from her other wonderful shows and the first show of Jennifer Sargent that I have seen where she is solely in the director and creator/writer role and not on stage.

If you are going to For The Sins I Can Remember, the IRT Theater is in the old printing house building at 154 Christopher Street.  The big red brick building that takes up a full block and is on the 3rd Floor.  Remember it is on the third floor, up the elevator.  Press buzzer #3 there is a #3 A & B I pressed both to get in.

Thursday – Saturday at 8 PM; Sunday at 7 PM
Tickets  $18, Students $15
Brown Paper Tickets 1-800-838-3006 or visit

“Like” Mask Arts Company on facebook

Here is another review from New York Theater Review

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>